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MIG Welding

A welder explains what MIG welding is all about
"MIG welding can be used for most types of metals; steel, stainless steel, as well as aluminium.
But welding aluminium is very different from welding mild steel because aluminium is a metal
that is different from steel. So when we weld aluminium, we have to use other parameters, other
settings. Aluminium has a lower melting temperature than mild steel, for example, so you should
expect that we should use a lower heat input but in spite of this. So we have to use a higher local
heat-input but a faster welding speed than with steel to get good fusion and penetration. This
sounds as if aluminium welding is difficult , but it's not. The welding sets that we use adjust the
welding parameters automatically, so the welder can concentrate on the welding operation, the
movement of the welding gun and the weld pool.
The parameters that are machine-controlled are for example the wire feed speed, the arc
voltage, which is the same as the arc length, gas consumption and the diameter of the wire. But
even if they're machine-controlled, the welder will have to feed them into the machine before she
starts welding. Now during the welding process itself, the welding set will adjust the relationship
between these parameters. If they're correctly set, the welder only has to concentrate on the
length of the stickout, the angle of the welding gun and the welding speed. So in many ways MIG
welding is easier than metal arc welding.
MIG welding can be used with a number of metals, but there certain differences the welder
should be aware of. Take MIG welding used on mild steel and on aluminium, for example. The
greatest differences between these two welding methods are the choice of shielding gas and the
ampere and voltage levels. Plus, of course, the method that's used for the transfer of the metal.
We distinguish between three types of transfer:
the spray arc transfer,
the pulsed transfer, and
the dip transfer, also commonly called "short arc".
The spray arc transfer has higher arc voltage and current levels than short arc transfer. It's
commonly used on materials of different thicknesses and properties.
The choice of shielding gas will vary depending on the metals to be welded. When welding
aluminium, we often use argon or a mixture of argon and helium. But welding steel would need
CO2. We used a gas called "Mison" when we were welding the living quarters for the platform.
The living quarters were made of aluminium. The Mison gas is a gas that doesn't reduce or
break down; the content of ozone; in the air, so it's quite good for the environment. By the way,
the welding sets that we used, the Aristo 500, have what's called a "synergic pulse". It's a very
advanced machine. "Synergic" means something like "working together", and it's a set that
automatically chooses the best ratio between the welding parameters and adjusts them. The
machine adjusts the parameters itself, so it's more likea modern computer. You can programme
all the welding data you need into the machine. There are about 100 programmes where you can
store all the welding parameters, so that later on you can choose the parameters you need for a
welding process.
One problem when you're welding aluminium, is to be able to see if the weld you're doing will be



MIG Welding

right. In most; cases this problem can be overcome by watching the weld pool. I can see from
the penetration of the material and from the flow of the weld, whether the welded joint; is OK or
not. I can see whether the current and the voltage levels are set right or if the current's too low.
That's something you learn from experience.
One of the most important factors when you're welding, is the current level. If you don't have the
current right it's easier to make mistakes when you're MIG welding aluminium than when you're
welding with coated electrodes. The cleaning of the prepared joints is important too. We used
stainless steel wire brush and a cleaning fluid, which in fact was alcohol. It smelled terrible. But
we used welding masks that have a fresh air supply and we used them when're cleaning as well
as welding. So I'm not bothered so much by the welding fumes as I used to be, and I've noticed
that I breathe better now than before because I don't inhale so much of the dangerous gases
that develop when I'm welding."
Automatic MIG Welding

Fully automatic mechanized MIG welding is extensively used for making either straight,
circumferential or circular welds. The workpieces are then clamped in a steady position by
means of fixtures, rotators and other equipment such as jigs. The use of welding robots in the
car industry for spot welding is well known and resulted in increased speed of production and
less costs. When operating a welding robot the welder becomes the operator for whom the robot
works. The production station, which mat vary according to the size of the work pieces, can
consist of two positioners, a jig for example, on which the work is done. These positioners and
the data needed in the welding process are controlled by a microcomputer. The robot head has a
gas shielded metal arc welding gun adapted to fit the head and the power source is of the
thyristor-controlled constant voltage type. The filler wire is fed from a unit that controls feed
speed and that compensates automatically for variations in mains voltage and for the friction of
the rollers.

Answer the following questions using the information in the text about MIG welding:
- Why is welding aluminium different from welding steel?
- What examples of machined-controlled parameters do you find in the text?
- What are the three types of metal transfer used in MIG?
- What is the main drawback with a pure argon gas?
- In what ways is the Aristo 500 like a computer?
- Why and when did the welders use welding masks with air supply?
- What will you have to do with aluminium joints before you weld them?
Explain the main differences between TIG and MIG welding.
The term Wire feed speed(Wfs); refers to "the speed that a wire is fed at".
Explain the meaning of the following terms in a similar way:
Welding speed
Wire feed speed control
Machine-controlled parameters.



MIG Welding

MIG welding machine.

Answer first the following questions, using the information infigure. Then give a complete
description of the machine andcomponents, using the information given below the figure.
1 - Where is the shielding gas stored?
2 - Wha is the purpose of the gas regulator and the flow meter?
3 - What is the purpose of the wire feed speed control?
4 - What does the control cable contain and what's it connected to?
Coil/wire spool: with a consumable wire electrode.
Filler wire: fed to a welding gun at a constant speed.
Welding gun: water-cooled (high amperes) or air-cooled (low)
Trigger control functions:
1 close the welding power source contactor,
2 open the gas valve,
3 start the flow of water (if water-cooled)
4 start the wire feed motor.
MIG, MAG or CO2 welding?

Argon and helium are inert gases. These gases or a mixture of them are used in MIG welding.
Carbon-dioxide - CO2 - and oxygen are active gases. These gases are used in what's called CO2
The use of the terms MIG andCO2 consequently depends on the type of shielding gas that is
used. If the shielding gas is argon or helium, as in the welding of aluminium, the term MIG is
used because argon and helium are inert gases. In many cases a small amount of CO2 may be
mixed into the inert gas, but the term MIG-welding is still used. However, if the shielding gas is
CO2, as in the welding of steels, the terms MAG- or CO2welding should be used because
carbon-dioxide is an active gas.

Explain the differences between these two types of welding characteristrics:

Welding machines used for MMA with covered electrodes:voltage curve; and constant current
(CC) curve. .... in voltage and in arc length affect quality of Machines used for MIG welding: flat,
constant voltage (CV). No variations in the arc length and arc voltage.
Metal transfer
The term pinch-effect is an important feature with MIG welding. It refers to a short-circuiting of
the current that melts the filler wire and thereby regulates the metal transfer.
Dip transfer (or short-circuit): The filler wire is pinched off by short-circuiting. The tip of the filler
wire dips into the molten weld pool.
Spray arc transfer: No short-circuiting of the filler wire. The filler material is deposited as a spray.
High heat input. Leftward welding for aluminium.
Pulsed arc transfer: A modified form of spray transfer using constant background current which
melts the filler wire. A pulsed current is used to detach and transfer the filler metal at a preset



MIG Welding

Ampere levels
Using the information in the table below, make up sentences describing the ampere levels used
when welding mild steel and aluminium.
Mild steel

Wire (in

Ampere levels

Wire stickout
Using the information in the two illustrations and the table below, describe the two types of metal

Dip (short arc) transfer

Arc voltage: 15 - 22V
Current: >175A
Wire stickout: 5 - 12 mm
Metals: steel and steel alloys
Connection: dc electrode positive
Contact tube: 5 mm in front of nozzle tip

Spray transfer
Arc voltage: 27 - 54V
Current: < 200A
Wire stickout: 15 - 20 mm
Metals: aluminium (other metals in flat
Connection: dc electrode positive
Contact tube: 5 mm inside nozzle tip

Electrodes used in aluminium welding

Go to this website and present the information given about the composition and application of
electrodes used in MIG welding of aluminium.
Note: Br.Engl: aluminium, but US: aluminum.
Make up a description of aluminium by using the following information:
- Properties: soft, corrosion-resistant.
- Melting point, 660 C.
- Weight: 66 % less than steel.
- Elasticity and rigidity: one third of that of steel.
- Thermal conductivity: about 6 X steel.
- Surface film of aluminium oxide: prevents fusion of the weld with the parent metal. Film must be
removed, surface and wires kept clean.



MIG Welding

- Shielding gas: argon.

- Purpose: to prevent the formation of oxide in the weld zone. Breaks down ozone in the air.
- Welding processes for:
Aluminium, MIG and TIG; rapid with high weld qualities.
Find a welding procedure specification (WPS) and explain the main points in it. | Updated 06.03.02 | Comments [ ]